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Rutgers upsets No. 24 Pittsburgh, Panthers start 0-2 in Big East play

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Despite an 11 a.m. ET tip-off in Piscataway, N.J., Rutgers came out with energy and purpose in the early minutes of its matchup with No. 24 Pittsburgh Saturday, surviving a second-half push from the Panthers to get an upset win at home, 67-62.

Eli Carter led the way for Rutgers with 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor and 10-of-10 shooting from the free throw line.

The Scarlet Knights turned the ball over 18 times on the game, which kept the game close in the second half. It was the biggest factor that allowed Pittsburgh to cut into a 14-point halftime deficit at the start of the second half with a 9-0 run.

The Panthers trimmed the lead to as little as two points with close to four minutes remaining after a Durand Johnson bank three-pointer, but Dane Miller threaded a pass to Jerome Seagears for a layup to push the lead back to four.

Pittsburgh had success early in the second half by slowing Rutgers’ transition game that had built the 14-point halftime lead. Stuck in the half-court, Rutgers had trouble controlling the basketball and slipped out of rhythm.

That changed in the final three minutes, as Pittsburgh went 0-of-5 from three-point range and freed the Scarlet Knights from half-court set. That opened up the full-court game that had given Rutgers success in the first half. Pittsburgh shot 7-of-25 from three-point range on the game.

With Rutgers up six points and just over 1:35 to play, Pittsburgh senior Talib Zanna was called for a technical foul for pushing Rutgers forward Wally Judge. That gave the Scarlet Knights three foul shots and possession, which ultimately sealed the game with the help of a 9-1 run.

After going 12-1 in the non-conference and finally cracking into the Top 25, Jamie Dixon’s Pittsburgh Panthers are now 0-2 in the Big East, following this loss and a loss earlier in the week to Cincinnati.

Poor shooting from the floor and a -8 rebounding margin hurt Dixon’s team Saturday. Senior Tray Woodall, in a homecoming of sorts returning to New Jersey, shot just 3-of-11 from the floor, though he worked well as a facilitator with eight assists.

Zanna, coming into the game averaging over six rebounds per game, had just one on Saturday. He was outworked by a rebounding patchwork from Rutgers, with six players tallying at least four rebounds.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.